ROCKVILLE CENTRE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A New York City police officer has been accused in a startling string of flashing incidents, but now he’s retracting his confession, and claims he’s not the one who exposed himself to teens in Rockville Centre backyards.
NYPD detective Robert Francis was silent in court on Monday, but has admitted he was the flasher who exposed himself to teens in five homes in Rockville Centre.
As CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported, he allegedly snuck into fenced backyards at night, knocked on windows, and shined a flashlight to illuminate his obscene act.
Now, his attorney says his confession was coerced.
“The district attorney has said there are three people who have identified a white person and you can tell Mr. Francis is in no way a white person,” Peter Brill said.
The 17 year detective and married father claims he was innocently visiting a friend when Rockville Centre police conveniently pinned a string of cases on him, and that emotional issues prompted him to falsely confess.
“He’s had some financial problems, some job problems. It’s been a difficult time for him, it has nothing to do with any sexual history or anything that is as torrid that is alleged here,” Brill said.
Police stood by their confession.
“It’s not a coerced confession. We don’t coerce people into confessing,” Rockville Centre Police Commissioner, Charles Gennerio said.
Gennario said the young victims understandably gave vague descriptions.
“They glance at what was going on, and immediately turn away,” he said.
Victims’ parents told CBS2 their kids were traumatized. Neighbors hope the unsettling pattern is solved.
“If he committed the crime he should pay for it, and if it’s mistaken identity they need to continue to look for this perpetrator,” one parent said.
“If it’s true it’s a New York City police officer, so it’s pretty upsetting,” another added.
False confessions are a documented phenomenon, but from a seasoned police detective? Residents may be skeptical — noting that there have been no similar incidents in the three weeks since his arrest.
Francis has been suspended from the NYPD, as is routine when a police officer is arrested. The judge ordered him to stay away from the five teenage victims.